Saturday, February 19, 2011

it’s time to end this…

I've been reading too many personal attacks on the Wisconsin budget bill.  This is a topic where both sides are passionate, and feel they're right.  Each side believes they represent good. 

People aren't stupid or ignorant if they believe one way or the other.  They just believe something different.  Instead of focusing on differences, let's find the common ground and work from there. 

Polarizing attitudes create schisms that will be hard to bridge in the future. 

The Governor vacating contracts unilaterally is unconscionable.  The ends may be correct, but the means are wrong.  He was elected governor, not dictator.   He can and probably should get his way, but he needs to do it in a more collaborative way.

To the senators who "moved" to Illinois, I have some advice.  Win next time.  Elections have consequences.  These are the consequences.  The Wisconsin public has spoken and you now need to suck it up and deal with this governor.

To the teachers who protested during school hours, stay on the job and teach.  I am not proud you walked out on your students.  Quite frankly, putting your students in the middle of this debate shows me that you may not be the people I thought and hoped your were.

And to Jesse Jackson, please learn the damned English language.  

Now, it's time all parties grow up and get in a room, mediate, do whatever is necessary to end this.


  1. The line about Jesse Jackson made me laugh.

    You're right, that it's time to end this, but as you said, Walker was elected governor, not dictator. And the unions have said, "Fine, we'll make the financial concessions, just let us keep our voice at the bargaining table."

    And Walker's said "No." Which leads me to believe that this isn't about a budget, "crisis" or otherwise.

    It's about busting unions. And the fact that this dude was bankrolled by the Koch brothers and said, before he was elected, that he'd decertify the unions, not understanding that the governor doesn't have the power to do that, explains why people are fighting this so feverishly.

    The little guy, alone, has no power. As part of collective bargaining, he has the power of the unit. But the obscenely rich want the little guy to have no power.

    This, truly, is class warfare. Frankly, I'd be much more distressed if people *weren't* protesting, if they were just letting the wealthy steamroll right over them.

    This is a pivotal moment in this history of this country.

  2. This gets more interesting because Walker isn't wealthy. He's got no money. When Milwaukee County Executive, he gave back a portion of his pay. So, to pair him, or call him "for the rich" doesn't fit. I don't believe he's a bad guy, just maybe misguided.

    Wisconsin was the first state to offer collective bargaining to its employees in 1959. Public employees regularly retire at 57 with full benefits.

    At the time these contracts were instituted, nobody could forsee two issues which were the change and cost of medical services and life expectancy. In 1959, an X-Ray was exotic and cost a few bucks. We have added more than a decade of life expectancy in that span of time as well, as well as geometric growth in the cost of medical care.

    So, clearly, this boat is so loaded down, it can no longer sail. Benefits now account for almost as much of a public employees pay and their wages.

    Since negotiations almost always deal with the pay side, and not the benefits side, and pay is usually indexed to cost of living, the overall package going to public employees has way overstepped inflation. This is the crux of the problem, and the part the governor wants to take out of the collective bargaining process, not the wage portion.

    The problem we have in Wisconsin is that we have leadership that is determined to defeat the other. The union leadership called anyone who felt there were going to be cuts "retarded", not a choice of words I would make, and not the platform that makes for very good relations.

    So, it's time to restructure. I agree with you that collective bargaining is the proper route. But, I don't believe this is about "class warfare" or the rich. We've just built a government we can't afford.

    I also agree with the right to assemble, but not on the public dollar. And, I would hope they would assemble. But we have to stay away from sound bites, and rhetoric.

    People who are less informed think taxing the "rich" will solve the problem. It won't.

    I look at our government as sort of house with it's windows left open in the winter. The utility bills come in and everyone wants to collect more money to pay the bills before the heat's turned off, when the real solution is closing the windows.

    This is not the path we are looking for from our leadership. I'm expecting the next steps to be for the union to call for all public employees to stage a work stoppage, or rolling work stoppages and for the Governor to fire all of them with the right to reapply for their jobs.

    Walter and the union leadership need to go to some undisclosed location without microphnones and hammer this thing out.

    If I'm Walker, I'm asking the union to take a specified cut and then leave the benefits in the negotiating process. And then, I use the total cost of the employee, including retirement benefits, not just the pay side, as the basis for all future negotiations.

    If I'm the union, I accept, with the understanding that collective bargaining stays in it's entirety.

    There, I've solved the whole mess.

  3. From what I've read, the unions have agreed to all the financial concessions he's asking them to make but want collective bargaining left intact, and he's saying "No." What's up with that? Stripping people of their voice in a process? And now the overnight vote in the State Assembly that didn't even allow all the Dems to get their votes in before it was shut down? The Republicans got their majority and that's all that matters? Really shady. And the world is watching.

    Meanwhile, the richest two percent in this country yelled about returning to the pre-Bush Tax Cut rate and got their way (even though the likes of Warren Buffet said not to give him the money, because he didn't need it and wouldn't invest it, that he'd just buy more stock in his own companies) and many companies pay no tax whatsoever. So how is it that when we expect the wealthy and the corporation to chip in it's "redistribution of wealth" but when we take money away from folks who barely earn a living to begin with, that's just fine?

    And speaking of tax cuts, maybe pushing those through (with a sunset date because that was the only way to get the measure passed) while two unfunded wars were raging was a bad idea and decimated the country's balance sheet.

    The logic is lost on me. Perhaps because there's no logic.